Orphan: First Kill
Dir. William Brent Bell (2022)
Esther travels to America after escaping an Estonian mental institution, setting up this interesting sequel to the original.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
I was really concerned with how they’d do a prequel with the first film being fairly self-contained, and I wasn’t entirely sure that there would even be a market for a redo even though the original Orphan film was pretty well received. What Orphan had going for it was the shocking end, where we find out that this isn’t just an evil little girl but an evil older girl pretending to be an evil little girl! However, scriptwriter David Coggeshall and creator David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick pulled off something special here, creating a film that was both wildly different from the hit original while only adding to the lore successfully. Not to mention, it’s a helluva fun thrill ride that was far more action-packed than the original.
Orphan: First Kill is bloody as all hell, and it doesn’t even tease us with the secret that Isabelle Fuhrman’s character is a child. We know from the beginning what happened in the original, and this film helps guide us to the establishing events of the earlier film. What’s even more interesting is that this film has a shocking twist that perhaps even exceeds the one in the first film, creating a fantastic role for Julia Stiles in a part that she usually doesn’t play. For me, as good as Fuhrman was (and she is fantastic in both films), Stiles knocks this one out of the park in a role that is going to leave some fans speechless. The family dynamic is much improved in this film, and we get a fast-paced thriller that isn’t essentially a remake of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle with a twist.
To be fair to this review, it has been a long while since I saw the original Orphan film, but I would be hard pressed to point to any inconsistencies between this movie and its sequel. Everything packaged into a tight frame, giving us a prequel that is far better than some other ones I can name (*cough* George Lucas *cough*). I was surprised and delighted at exactly how bloody this one is, and Fuhrman’s Esther packs a mean-as-hell punch behind her violence. The one critique that I would have towards the story is that her character’s motivation doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, though it’s a criticism that would also apply to the original from my recollection: did she think she was going to be able to pretend to be someone’s daughter and then seduce them? I don’t know how things work in Estonia, but we look down on that quite a bit here.
Either way, this one is getting attention all over social media, and it absolutely should be. It’s a delightfully fun film, perhaps a bit more hardcore than the original but one that fans of the earlier film will love as well. It’s well-shot, well-acted (especially Fuhrman and Stiles), and its damn fun film from beginning to end. While I don’t know how Esther will escape from her fate in the original to make a legitimate sequel, with how well this one did I imagine they’re already trying to figure out a way to resurrect her. And to be honest, after seeing Orphan: First Kill, I’m here for it. Who this movie is for: Fans of the first film, Modern horror lovers, Fans of The Imposter Bottom line: Much more exciting than the original film and with a twist that at least equals that one, this one is not to be missed. It’s streaming on Paramount Plus so there’s no excuse not to give it a watch. The writing is fantastic, the story flows quickly, and the acting is actually legitimately good for a movie like this. One of the better prequels that I’ve seen, and absolutely worth the hype.